Friday, January 18, 2008

Hello, Dr. B? - Part 2

Part 1

Dr. B and his assistant arrived about 35 minutes later. I knew what doc was going to do when he got there, because he told me what his plan had been the last time he came out and found my horse to be sound. He first had me lunge him, and confirmed that he was off. He didn't want to say lame, just a little off. Then we took him out and get him scrubbed up for a nerve block.

He wanted to block the leg to be sure he was correct about what area was the problem. First he blocked out just above the fetlock. We waited ten minutes, then again lunged him. I didn't think he looked better, but doc said he thought he was 50% better. Then Kaswyn was scrubbed again and blocked at the origin of the suspensory - not because he thinks he has a suspensory tear but because that block will block out the splint area. Next time on the lunge line he was almost completely sound, and starting carrying on a little bit on the lunge line with his head high. All the other times he had his head really low and looked dejected and withdrawn.

So, fine. We know that we are in fact dealing with the same problem area. Doc said what he wanted to do is inject it with cortisone. That would take away the inflammatory response and cool the area down and hopefully get it to heal.

I had some questions first. Why hadn't this healed already? Will it ever heal? Or is this something that he's not going to come back from?

Dr. B said he's surprised that Kaswyn still has this problem. In his opinion this injury should have healed up and been a non-issue by now, considering that radiographically the injury is just not that bad. He's got two theories of what might be happening with Kaswyn, and neither are common but both are possible. When a horse "pops a splint" you can usually see a large lump right under the knee. This is not the bone itself, but connective tissue on the bone that tears away and becomes inflamed. Usually these look ugly but once they get hard and heal they don't cause any more pain. Theory #1 is that instead of the splint popping out that it popped in, and that connective tissue is causing issues.

Theory # 2...there is a nerve that runs under the splint bone. It's possible that, either due to the connective tissue popping in or some bone calcification on the inside of the bone, the nerve is getting pinched between the splint bone and cannon bone. He said the pinched nerve could explain why he's okay sometimes and off sometimes. It could also explain why it's causing him so much pain from an injury that is not severe.

The problem with both theories is he doesn't know how to diagnose them, let alone treat them. If it's either problem they aren't showing up on x-ray or ultrasound. He is going to talk to Dr. G about it and do some more networking to get some ideas about how to get to the bottom of this. Until then, his suggestion is to inject cortisone into the area, because that will help with all the scenarios.

I had told myself that I wasn't going to stick another needle in my horse. That the next time he was off I was just going to lay him off for awhile. But then listening to doc made me realize that if it's not the original injury that we thought (splint bone torn away from cannon bone) but if it's either calcified connective tissue inside the splint bone or a pinched nerve that time off will not solve that. Mother nature can heal the original theory of the injury, but she can't break down calcifications or stop a pinched nerve.

I told him to inject Kaswyn. Then I wanted to know this - what next? At what point will we know what we've got? The answer - if he stays sound for months, then it's the original injury and it will eventually heal with cortisone and time. But if I start him up again and he's lame in a few weeks, then we've got something else. Something that maybe can't be diagnosed, and therefore can't be treated. Or cured.

Craig and I had a discussion last night about Kaswyn. The question is how much longer am I going to try to fix Kaswyn? Are the treatments and diagnostics just going to get more and more expensive, experimental, and questionable? Am I ever going to give up?

I don't really have an answer. So far I have not been told that Kaswyn is not treatable. If Dr. B were to say "He was this. We can't fix this. It's over. Stop riding him.", then I would. But he hasn't said that. I feel like were so close to fixing this. Kaswyn gives me such good rides sometimes, I just feel like we're almost there. Maybe I'm fooling myself.

Craig says he doesn't see how I can get any enjoyment out of my horse anymore - that all he gives me is worry and sorrow. That's really not true. If we never set foot in the show ring again, I'd be happy if I could at least have the same relationship with him as far as riding goes. If you've never had a true connection with a horse then you can't really understand what I'm talking about. It's nonverbal communication where you and your horse are working together, and both really enjoying it. My horse loves it when I ride him, and I love to do it. We have fun together.

Even if I could just trail ride him I'd be happy. The other day we walked down the drive way and down the road. We were out for almost 25 minutes and it was cold, grey, and we got snowed on a little. But I talked to him and he listened, and I felt very connected to him. I rode bareback, in a halter (with my helmet of course) so I could feel his back working under me. At one point I heard what I thought was a car behind me, but glancing quickly over my shoulder I didn't see anything. But I could still hear something. That's when I saw a man on a mountain bike in a bright neon green raincoat come up on us to our left. Kaswyn saw it at the same time, and since he hadn't seen a bike in years and the fact that the raincoat was bright and flapping I thought he'd spook. He jerked his head up, and I laid my hand on his shoulder and said "It's okay, boy. Just a bike. You're fine." Immediately he relaxed, licked his lips, and walked on without a care (although still watching the bike with curiosity). He trusts me. And I know he loves me. That little ride down the road was so much fun for me because of our connection, not because of what we were doing.

I know everyone thinks their horse is great, but I have to say that this animal is one in a million. He's simply not replaceable. I have to do everything I can to fix him. I can make more money. I can't make another Kaswyn.

If I could never sit on his back again, my heart would break into a million pieces.

So Kaswyn has five days off, then I'll ride him again. If he's sound, I'll take it day by day and hope those days stretch into months. And years.


Carol said...

I can completely understand about having a connection to your horse. I have a tremedous connection to my guy as well. People who have never ridden or loved horses have a hard time understanding this (and if they aren't animal lovers in general -- it's even harder). I applaud you for not giving up. As you said, there will never be another Kaswyn. A true horsewoman cares deeply for her horse above any discipline or event. I have also been told that I worry too much about my horse (who is a senior citizen with some mild arthritis) as well. How is that any fun?? (I've been told that too). I think my answer to that is that I try to focus on the good stuff, the fun stuff -- even if it's only a quiet walk down the road. Focusing on the good things doesn't make the bad stuff go away or the worry, but it makes you that much more determined to deal with it and make the best of it. Again, this is something only true horse lovers are going to understand -- and it's incredibly hard to explain. You and Kaswyn will be in my thoughts and I will keep my fingers crossed that you will have many more wonderful rides ahead of you!

(aka Campin Horseluvr)

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about all of your boy's problems and hope that they are resovled soon. I do get the relationship and understand completely how you can't give up on him! *hugs*

EquineSpirit said...

Awwww...((HUGS!!)) I hope at the very least that you can trail ride with him. And I totally understand that bond you are talking about. It sure is a "one in a million" connection that doesn't come with every living being be it horse, cat, dog, or even human. Again...((HUGS!!))

Wiola said...

Oh dear, that made me feel really emotional :(
I was reading Part 2 and thinking: 'she deserves another horse so she can train and show him; she could just retire Kaswyn and have fun with another horse'...
But then I got to the bike story and the 'I can make more money but I can't make another Kaswyn' and I thought you are right: some horses are replacable as much as some people are...and we must do everything we can to mend them.

Kaswyn, if your mum passes the comments to you, please start mending man, as otherwise we are all going to be in tears!

Beckz said...

Kaswyn is definitely worth waiting for, he sounds extremely special. And those horses you have a special bond with are the greatest thing. I'm sorry you have had this incredibly hard time with him lately and I hope it gets fixed soon

Rising Rainbow said...

I so hope Kaswyn heals. I know what he means to you and I know what you mean to him.

I can understand you not wanting to stick another needle into him, I've hit that limit with Dandy too. But then things change and that never doesn't fit anymore, and we do what we have to to try. I can't help but think that this is going to turn out for the both of you. I guess I have to believe that and I hope you do too.

Next time you're at the barn, give the guy a nice scratch on the whither from me.

You just have to love these horses with this kind of heart!

Anonymous said...

I completely 100% understand what you are going though. Simy is no longer rideable at all, yet I will never give up on him. He's my 'pony soul mate'. I trust him 100% and he trusts me. I doubt I'll ever have that kind of relationship with another horse as long as I live. I do everything I can to keep him comfortable. I don't want to poke him with more cortizone (not that he cares), but I know that if it will keep him happy, then that's what I will do. If I can keep him eating, pooping and getting up and down ok, I'll do what I need to do. It takes him forever and a day to shuffle out to the pasture, but he doesn't seem unhappy- just slow. Seeing his fuzzy ears prick when I come to the barn and hearing him whicker to me is all the validation I need to know I'm doing the right thing.

Give Kas-weinner an extra carrot for me and let him know he's one of the very special ponies.

Echo said...

He's definitely worth fixing - as you say, you're so close to doing this!
I can relate to the husband (boyfriend in my case) thinking that you don't get any enjoyment out of the horse any more. My boyfriend thinks that Echo just makes me tired and broke, and that all I do is worry about her. But they will never truly understand the relationship you get with your horse - no one will. It's absolutely a one on one feeling that other people will never understand. You've just got to do what you feel's right.

Mrs Mom said...

Time can heal many things. ;)

Believe in Kaswyn, and in your ability to help him heal as well.

Every event we go through with our horses has something to offer- just as we can learn from every person we meet- be it what TO do, or what NOT to do- we can also learn valuable lessons from our horses in events like this.

Keep your chin up, listen to your gut, and go love that horse!

Kimberly said...

I just started recently reading your blog and this post made me cry! I would be in the exact same boat you are, and admire you for your self-reflection and concern for your horse. You are doing EVERYTHING right, especially if you go with your gut and heart. I wish you all the best and send warm thoughts your way!

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